The passageways lay empty and the normal hustle and bustle comes to a standstill during the early morning hours aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). All is silent except the hum of the engines and generators that keep the ship running. Suddenly the silence is broken by an announcement over the ship’s 1 main Circuit Shipboard Public Address System (1MC).
“Set full-bore, set quick draw! Set full-bore, set quick draw!,” calls the Tactical Action Officer over the 1MC. For most of the crew aboard the ship it’s merely a faint interruption to their much earned slumber. For members of the quick-draw and full-bore teams however, it’s a call to action.
When the announcement goes out, each team has only minutes to respond. The quick-draw team rushes to the flight deck manning their M240B machine guns. These guns are loaded and ready to fire if called upon.
Simultaneously, the full-bore team heads to the ready service lockers to grab the appropriate ammunition and gear needed to man the crew-served mounted weapons.
“The full-bore and quick-draw teams are vital resources within the ship’s defense in depth concept,” said Lt. j.g. Diarious Travis, Nimitz’s security and anti-terrorism officer, from Akron, Ohio.
Travis serves as the commanding officer’s subject-matter expert and primary advisor for anti-terrorism and force protection. Travis is responsible for maintaining the overall good order and discipline aboard the ship and is responsible for developing the command’s pre-planned responses to man-made or natural incidents. This includes ensuring that the quick-draw team is proficient in their training tactics, techniques and procedures.
“The teams provide the commanding officer with a quick, responsive ability to bolster defensive efforts with speed and accuracy against potential small boat or plane attacks,” said Travis. “The teams are utilized to track, assess and determine hostile intent via the use of force ladder, including deadly force to neutralize the threat if necessary.”
The two teams are a split responsibility of the Nimitz security force and the weapons department aboard. Specifically, the Sailors that make up the quick-draw team are trained Master-at-Arms (MA) while the full-bore team is primarily made up of Gunner’s Mates (GM). The GMs work alongside the MAs to ensure training and qualifications stay up to date for all weapons.
“We have worked together with security to get our teams prepared; it’s been an all hands effort,” said Lt. j.g. Virgilio Fermin, the Ship’s Gunner from Miami.
The full-bore team has been training since 2015 to handle the different challenges presented on deployment. The training consisted of multiple live-fire and simulated exercises using the latest Engagement Skills Trainer (EST 2000). EST 2000 sets the highest standard for small-arm-engagement training according to industry professionals.
The simulated training gave the team a chance to respond to various scenarios including responding to incoming small boats like those the ship may face at sea. After each drill, the team went through a debriefing process to discuss how they defended the ship and what they could do to improve going forward. These drills proved pivotal in preparing the team for deployment, said Fermin.
Both the full-bore and the quick-draw teams continue to keep their skills sharp and their qualifications current by conducting weekly training on board the ship. The Quick Draw team is required to be qualified on the M240B Machine Gun, M4 Carbine, M16 Rifle and M9 Pistol. While the full-bore team is certified to operate the Mk 38 25mm and M2HB .50-caliber mounted machine guns.
Together the two teams provide 360-degree protection for the ship whenever called away.
“When the call goes out to set full-bore and quick draw the teams rush to get on station,” said Fermin. “They are professionals and they know that at this point if something is called it’s real. They stop what they are doing, regardless of what time it is, and get where they need to be.”
As the sun goes down in the Arabian Gulf after another hectic day aboard Nimitz, Sailors can rest easy knowing the quick-draw and full-bore teams are trained and ready to respond when called upon.
Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in this region, the ship and strike group are conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce.
Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Maddux